The Benefits of Yoga for People who Stutter

In this linked paper, the potential benefits of yoga for people who stutter are explored.

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In this linked paper, the potential benefits of yoga for people who stutter are explored. Stuttering is a speech anomaly characterised by repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruptions in speech known as blocks. An individual who stutters exactly knows what he or she would like to say but has trouble producing a normal flow of speech. These speech disruptions may be accompanied by struggle behaviors, such as rapid eye blinks or tremors of the lips. Stuttering can make it difficult to communicate with other people, which often affects a person’s quality of life and interpersonal relationships.

We already know from previous research that yoga can modulate autonomic nervous system activity, decrease anxiety and stress, and improve quality of life. This preliminary study sought to examine the use of yogic techniques on people who stutter given the interaction between physiological arousal/anxiety and stuttering that current models of stuttering propose. Four participants volunteered to participate. Stuttering severity, anxiety, and experiences regarding stuttering and communication were measured at baseline, post intervention, and at four months follow-up. The participants attended group yoga sessions and engaged in home practice. Participants showed improvements across outcome measures, with the most improvement related to anxiety. Participants also reported improvements in their perceptions about communication.

Whilst this is a very small study the results are very promising, suggesting the potential benefits of yoga for people who stutter. What we need now is a randomised controlled trial or something similar - a great subject for any of you budding yoga researchers or future PhD students out there!

Heather Mason

Founder of the Minded Institute, The Minded Institute

Heather Mason is a leader in the field of mind-body therapy and the founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind. She develops innovative methods for mental health treatment drawing on her robust educational background including an MA in Psychotherapy, an MA in Buddhist Studies, studies in Neuroscience and a current MSc in Medical Physiology.. She is also a 500 RYT, a yoga therapist and an MBCT facilitator. Heather offers various professional trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals and therapists, lectures around the world, and delivers training to medical students. She also develops protocols for different client populations by translating cutting edge research from the psycho-biology and neuro-biology of stress into yoga practices, breathwork, mindfulness interventions and therapeutic holding. Further she is involved in research on the efficacy of these practices, holds the annual UK yoga therapy conference and is blazing the trail for the integration of yoga therapy into the NHS